Productivity Is All About Balance: 4 Ways to Lighten Your Expectations and Prioritize Your Wellbeing



As an executive recruiter, I’ve placed countless high-achieving people in some of the most demanding positions around. I know what go-getters and mover-shakers are made of.

And I’ve noticed that it’s difficult – especially for seasoned professionals – to remember that effective work habits are about more than efficiency. Even with clear goals and carefully crafted resolutions, it can feel like you’re barely getting it all done.

To fix it, pay attention to your personal wellbeing.

Last year was fast and furious for me. I did what I needed to do but I didn’t do it the way I wanted to do it. I felt like I was letting myself down. I felt drained. And nothing ever felt finished.

I decided that I really need to take care of myself. Because if I don’t, I can’t take care of anyone else. Unless I implement self-care regimens systematically, by putting them on my calendar and to-do lists, I can’t keep up in a way that’s sustainable.

Here are a four ways I’m prioritizing my wellbeing to work and live with more productivity and joy:

Learn something just for fun

It’s imperative that I listen closely to my clients. So training my mind to stay in the moment is not just a nice idea, it’s an important skill.

To help me do this, I’ve taken up a new discipline: playing a word game on my iPad.

Sure, it’s a diversion that gives my brain a break from my daily routine.

But my main goal is to increase my vocabulary. Learning new words and creating my own appendix of them in the back of my notebook makes me more curious and engaged.

It’s also pretty fun. And science tells us that fun and enjoyment can encourage concentration, help us absorb new material, and build connections with other people.

(Even reading two pages of a murder mystery counts!)

Pen and paper

If I write out my plan for the day instead of typing it into a document, I’ve found that I’m able to keep track of my tasks more effectively. Not to mention that it’s satisfying to physically check a task off the list.

But the practice of using good old pen and paper to plan my day also sends me a subliminal message: If I write it down, it’s important; if I don’t write it down, it can probably wait.

Pen and paper = priority.

Mondays aren’t all that

So many of us have “go get ‘em!” expectations for ourselves when it’s the beginning of the week or the start of the year.

But if that doesn’t work for you (it doesn’t for me!) give yourself permission to be inspired at other times.

Start drafting a big, new idea on a Friday. If you feel more inspired by the sunshine, make July your own personal January, when you assess how your projects are going, re-group, set new goals, and spruce up your work systems. It’s all about what works for you.

(P.S. It’s OK to clean out your inbox on Monday morning!)

Always end on a positive

I try to offer myself a compliment at the end of the day, especially if it’s been busy or stressful. I get a lot of satisfaction when I see what I accomplished and how my work contributed to not only my personal goals and the goals of my company, but how I helped meet the goals of my clients.

Do the same for yourself: Find the positives and give yourself a pat on the back

And remember to laugh. We’ve got enough seriousness around us already. Savoring the fun moments of the day will help you stay positive and put you in a great mindset to start up again tomorrow.


Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people. –Tena Desae

Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers: 3 Ways to Beat Age-Based Assumptions and Learn to Work Together


Navigating generational assumptions in the workplace can feel like an impossible, ongoing challenge.

Cultural differences, a gulf in technological know-how, even subtle differences, such as speaking patterns, can make it difficult for each to see the value in the other and work together.

But after decades of working with myriad companies and employees of many ages and backgrounds, I’m convinced that we have more to gain than to lose from each other.

People of different generations are sometimes intimidated by one another. And that can lead to judgment and assumptions.

Often, this is simply the result of a lack of exposure. If we dive into cross-generational relationships in the workplace, with humility and the expectation that we have much to learn, our companies will become rich places of learning, enthusiasm, and innovation.

Here are 3 ways to beat back assumptions and encourage cross-generational collaboration.

Look past the policy

It’s important for your company to be in compliance, but make sure that’s not the only thing you’re doing to combat ageism.

Instead of simply meeting the letter of the law, identify the assumptions that generational groups have about one another and the implicit biases that drive everything from hiring to water cooler talk. Actions such as assigning employees of different generations to work on a project together can help bridge the gap.

Or consider implementing a cross-generational mentoring program to help expose people of different generations to one another beyond hellos in the hallway. Mentoring programs have been found to increase productivity, strengthen your succession structure, and increase employee engagement and retention.

Own up to stereotypes–even of yourself

Tired labels–that older workers can’t learn new technology, for instance, or that younger workers have little company loyalty–are damaging and simply not true. But they are deeply ingrained in us, driven by media portrayals of people instead of personal, real-world experience.

Help your employees acknowledge the stereotypes they have about one another through trainings and regular follow-ups.

And encourage people in your company to ditch any false age-based narratives they believe about themselves. That’s just playing into the problem. Instead, encourage people to explore what new things they can learn from colleagues.

Replace false labels with generous ones

People of all generations can help break down barriers by creating new, positive labels.

Older workers don’t see themselves as “old;” Younger workers don’t see themselves as “young.”

If employees can put themselves in each others’ shoes, they can become more aware of how people in another generation perceive themselves and start appreciating their strengths.

Instead of seeing older employees as out-of-touch or slow, younger employees can challenge the narrative by recognizing older workers’ years of experience, which often leads to strong interpersonal skills, a tendency to be inclusive, negotiation skills, and the ability to effectively advocate for an idea. They are also financially savvy and good at looking at the big picture.

Instead of seeing younger employees as flighty, disloyal or self-absorbed, older workers can recognize that younger employees have insights into diversity and privilege that are extremely valuable to the workplace, are highly entrepreneurial, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers and savvy with today’s essential skill of developing a personal brand.

All employees can learn to work together by adopting an attitude of flexibility and humbleness. Take direction or learn tech skills from someone half your age. Go to someone who’s been in your office for 20 years for advice on how to handle a difficult client or sticky workplace relationship.

Instead of buying into the story that you have nothing to gain from each other, start a mental checklist of the ways each of your colleagues can help and contribute–regardless of age.

What makes a candidate a “good fit”?


When you’re hiring, a lot of time and energy goes into finding enough skilled talent. There’s an overall shortage in the number of qualified candidates out there, after all. Employers say the fact they can’t find enough of them is their number one complaint.

So searching them out is one of the most challenging parts of the process. It’s also just the beginning. What happens after you’ve (finally) reviewed the best talent and completed the interview process, once you’ve narrowed it down to your top two highly qualified contenders?

Assuming each of your final candidates has top-notch skills and experience, you’ve now reached a critical–and subtle–stage of your search: Hiring the candidate who is the right fit.

That phrase,”the right fit,” gets tossed around a lot. But what does it really mean?

Discerning whether or not a person has qualities that will work for the position, beyond the skills they list on their resume, is difficult to do. But doing so by making sure this part of the process is just as robust as the early stages of your search is critical, not only for the new employee and their future team, but for the health of your whole company. Use every resource available so you can make the best possible choice.

To make distinctions between top candidates, it can be tempting for a hiring team to retreat into the details. Does candidate A have more hours logged on a given software program than candidate B? Is candidate B a more recognized speaker than candidate A? Did one or the other demonstrate better KPIs last year?

Hard data is compelling, so it can be difficult to look beyond these kinds of details. That’s why your team may benefit from the perspective of someone outside the group of people who will be working with the person directly–someone who can zoom out to look at soft skills and other less tangible factors such as company culture, personality traits, working style, and the nature of each candidate’s past experience and accomplishments.

Assuming both of your top candidates have desirable skills and top-level experience, encourage your hiring team to ask themselves these questions:

  • Which of the candidates will work best with the personalities in your organization?
  • How will their skills transfer, given the pace of your work environment?
  • What evidence do you have that they will train well for the position?
  • Are they adaptable? Will they embrace change?
  • Will they enhance your company’s growth goals?
  • Will they not only adapt to a new company but continue to evolve and help others do so as well?
  • Do they seem to have a genuine interest in your company’s products or services, culture, and mission?

Doing everything you can during this final phase of the hiring process to answer these kinds of questions for each of your candidates will help ensure that the candidate you choose will not only do the job well but will match your company’s culture: the elusive “good fit.”

To do so, talk to whoever you trust. Your HR department and/or talent acquisition recruiter will be aware of relevant trends and able to call attention to potential red flags or strengths that didn’t show up on paper or during the interview process.

Another voice can help you as you’re splitting hairs, to help you make the right distinctions between candidates so you can make the most tactical, positive decision for your team and the success of your company.

But I hate talking about myself! How to project confidence during an interview.


Talking about ourselves. It’s not something we do in polite company.

Etiquette dictates that we avoid bragging. We’re taught instead to ask other people questions and demure when we’re given a compliment.

But how do you make sense of these unspoken cultural rules when it comes time to interview for a job? How, exactly, do you toot your own horn without coming across as, well, a self-promoting braggart?

The thing is, being able to talk about your work, skills, and experience doesn’t have to feel like a bragging session. Talking about what makes you a great team member or leader is a skill in itself that you can learn.

Here are some ways you can embrace your next interview and learn to communicate the things about your work that make you a great hire.

Shift your mindset

“Selling yourself” may feel pushy. But in reality, you’re a salesperson every single day.

You may be lobbying your boss to approve a big project, encouraging another organization to partner with you, or recruiting volunteers for an event. These are all collaborative efforts and collaboration is, at its heart, a negotiation that benefits you and your company.

Take this attitude with you into the interview.

If you hold back because you’re worried that you’re going to look arrogant, it may have the opposite effect. Your interviewers may wonder how you expect them to discern your qualifications if you can’t share it with them.

“If you can’t tell me about yourself,” they may think, “how are you going to help me solve my immediate need? Why should I hire you?”

Put yourself in the employer’s shoes

Employers want employees who are good members of a team, who are just as excited about their work as they are. They’re looking for innovative ideas, solid skills, and people who will contribute positively to the work environment.

When you talk about yourself, you’re talking with a company about how you fit into their picture of their company. What value do you have to offer?

Think of your interview as a “will-we-fit-together?” exploration instead of a harsh evaluation: “You have a lot to offer and so do I. Let’s explore our strengths, needs, and skills and see if we can help each other.”

Tell your best anecdotes

To share about your work and qualifications in a way that’s meaningful to the employer, talk with your interviewer about real-life experiences you’ve had in your professional life, a limited number of high-qualities examples of how your work has made a positive impact.

Anecdotes can give your potential employer information about how you communicate and what motivates you without sounding like you’re reading off a long, bulleted list of qualifications.

In fact, sharing anecdotes about how you handled a sticky work situation or worked with a team to craft an innovative solution  is a great way to fulfill the goal of an interview: To share who you are.

Your interviewers already know a lot about you in 2-D, from your resume, but what are you like in person? Anecdotes can  answer that question.

If you share a meaningful anecdote about the way you work, it will communicate–at once–your problem-solving and collaboration skills, personality, successes, and areas where you have learned and changed.

Credit where credit is due

When you’re preparing anecdotes to share,  weave in positive results and things you’ve learned from colleagues and you’ll come across as someone who believes in yourself–and has the skills to back it up.

Focus on outcomes. Demonstrate your skills by describing what happened as the result of the situation and highlight how the workplace benefitted or project succeeded as a result.

If you worked particularly well with someone or learned something meaningful from a collaborator, talk about it. This will highlight your generosity and show that you’re clear-eyed about the contributions of everyone on a team.

Don’t be afraid to talk about how proud you feel of a job well done. You’ll come across as confident and your confidence will help your interviewer Sharing your best accomplishments will help your interviewer feel great about the possibility of you joining their team.

Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!
P. T. Barnum

“We’ve received your application and will be in touch.” Automated vs. relationship-based recruiting: What’s the difference?


Automated recruiting is getting a lot of play these days.

And it should.

For some types of jobs, these services can save a hiring team time and money by pre-screening resumes so they have fewer to review, with a higher chance of finding qualified candidates the first time around.

As part of a recruiting strategy, it can be helpful, especially for high-volume or fluid positions.

But it’s not always a good fit, for the candidate or the employer.

What’s the difference between automated recruiting and relationship-based recruiting? And which one is best for you?

If you’re hiring, deciding whether to start with an automated service or work with a recruiter will be one of the first decisions you make.

Here are a few things to consider.

The true value of automated recruiting–for you.

Even with automated screening, an attentive and conscientious employer will still read and assess the resumes that come in.

Automated hiring platforms say their services send resumes from only the most qualified candidates. They do this by not only automatically screening resumes, but by analyzing videos of candidates for facial expressions and speech patterns. Fewer candidates to consider helps hiring managers save time and a centralized online platform can help them stay organized and remember their impressions of candidates.

Candidates are getting tired of AI recruiting.

But candidates report fatigue with these systems. This year the Guardian found that many candidates are disillusioned by the automated recruiting process, especially considering that they invest hours submitting online applications.  “The role of human interaction in hiring has decreased, making an already difficult process deeply alienating.”

It also questions the integrity of the whole system. “Beyond the often bewildering and dehumanising experience,” it notes, “lurk the concerns that attend automation and AI, which draws on data that’s often been shaped by inequality.”

A traditional recruiting experience can eliminate these concerns through person-to-person interactions–between recruiter and candidates, between recruiter and employers, and ultimately between candidates and employers directly.

Passive candidates don’t use automated systems.

The kinds of candidates seeking upper-level positions or specialized roles aren’t likely to post their resumes online. Passive candidates, those who are quietly seeking a change or not actively seeking a new position, want to keep their searches and inquiries confidential. Doing otherwise could jeopardize their jobs.=

As a relationship-based recruiter, we find passive candidates, working confidentially and methodically. It’s a slower, more intentional process and many find that it’s a better fit because it results in long-term placement that benefits the candidate and the company.

We’ve found that clients or candidates will share more information with a good recruiter. Because we take time to listen to their needs, our candidates know we understand the candidate experience: We know their career goals and have their best interests at heart.

Candidates with recruiters have a high investment in the outcome.

When a candidate explores working with a recruiter, we think it says something about them.

They’re invested in their career and value the social, person-to-person approach to recruiting. They value the whole hiring experience, as well as the outcome.

Instead of looking solely at a list of desired traits or skills for a position, they’re interested in a company’s culture, team dynamics, and specific projects they would consider ideal, so they can make a positive impact using their expertise and experience. Those kinds of metrics are impossible for an automated system to capture.

It’s a candidate’s market.

For employers, it’s a tricky time to hire because there are simply more positions than skilled candidates out there. For in-demand jobs, more than 25% remain open for more than five months. Employers can benefit from a recruiter’s professional network to help cut through and attract the attention of top-level candidates.

Employers are continually facing the need to hire. So having an exceptional recruiting firm that meets your business’s criteria should be a strategic part of every business’s hiring initiative. A strong recruiting resource can leverage their ability to deliver services using processes they’ve perfected, including vast networks of passive candidates that are otherwise invisible .

The way you recruit is part of your brand.

In the end, the recruiting system you choose will affect your ability to attract good candidates. It could be that the use of automated services ultimately hurts your brand, especially if candidates feel they are treated impersonally. In the short term, you may fill some positions quickly but in the long term, it can damage your reputation.

Before you dive into your next search, think about what you want the candidate experience to be like and about what your recruiting says about your company. At the very least, be extra conscientious if you use these systems, and make sure you communicate with candidates.

Prioritizing candidates is prioritizing your future employees. And that’s something everyone can get behind.


We’re living in miraculous times where connections are made at the blink of an eye, the tap of a thumb, and the click of a mouse. We can never replace human interaction, but these simple actions can be powerful and meaningful to those we connect with.

– Christy Turlington


Joanna Liukkonen is a Global Executive Recruiter with LRC Recruiting in Seattle, WA. Connect with her on LinkedIn or message her at:


5 Ways to Manage Disappointment at Work


Devastated. Powerless.

That’s how it feels when you’re dealt a major disappointment at work.

Your project was cut. You got passed over—again—for that promotion. Your whole team got bigger bonuses than you did. You lost the big sale. One of your reports made a costly mistake.

You’re not alone. Successful employees, from mid-level managers to C-suite veterans, weather big blows in the workplace all the time. But when you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel like a common experience at all. It feels like it could spell the end of your tenure at your current workplace—or derail your entire career.

How do you cope?

First, realize that success doesn’t make you immune to disappointment. Then work on these areas:

Don’t Be Rash

In the wake of a big disappointment, it’s easy to feel like no option other than a big, dramatic one is appropriate. Like quitting. Or bad-mouthing your former boss or company.

This is not the time to make big decisions or pronouncements. High emotions can equal outsize reactions. Recognize that you’re angry or frustrated and leave it at that. Control your compulsions and focus on how to respond rather than react. Breathe. Sort out your options when you’re in a calmer state of mind.

Anticipate the Fallout

When a crisis happens, at home or at work, you’ll respond. Strongly. Timothy Butler, writing for the Harvard Business Review, notes that these “career shocks” may be distressing, but they’re also predictable.

Anticipate the strong emotions that will bubble to the surface in the wake of disappointment. You’ll feel angry or defensive. You’ll want to fight back. Your inner critic will rear its head. Let the process play out, being aware of the emotions that go along with it.

Manage Your Emotions

Once you’ve acknowledged and owned your emotions, it’s time to move on. Or at least compartmentalize. If you need to vent, vent at home. If you need to cry, do it in private.

Visibly venting your disappointment at work is a huge risk that can damage your relationships or reputation with employees, colleagues, or management. Keep it to yourself when you’re at work. If you need help, consider talking with someone outside your work system. A career consultant or coach, mentor, family member, or friend may be able to give you perspective

Learn From the Experience

You may feel devastated or even immobilized now. Lift yourself up by observing the situation and your own reactions to it. Actively seek new ways to view the situation.

And accept that disappointment is part of work, and part of life. It can even be an ally. A big disappointment makes you stronger by challenging and stretching your skills. Sometimes a great success is the direct result of a shocking disappointment.

Get Prepared

Knowing that disappointments are unavoidable, seek out advice from professional people you know who handle them well. Even if your current situation is great, have a Plan B in mind, just in case.

And if you need to address a work situation, make a plan. Whether it’s sitting down for a serious conversation with a colleague, approaching  your boss, or searching for a new job, act from a place of strength, clarity, and compassion for yourself and others around you.

And if you’re a manager dealing with employees? Develop a personal, team, or department strategy to manage disappointment so these kinds of difficult events will have less impact on morale, performance, and relationships.

Skype Skills: 6 Must-Dos For a Stellar Video Interview


The video interview: Few things in the professional world are as indispensable—or as dreaded.

Stories abound of candidates who decide to interview from the bathroom or inadvertently angle the camera so there’s a great view of their nose hairs.

But it doesn’t have to be a disaster. Let’s break down the experience so you can nail your next video interview.

Clean visuals

Forget the cluttered wall of photos behind your desk or the bookcase with a potted plant in the corner. In the world of the video interview, anything extra is a distraction.

The focus of the interview should be you. Sit in front of a blank wall or another simple background. Bonus: a clean backdrop ensures that everything visible is 100% appropriate. No bikini shots from your last vacation, please!

And make sure the lighting in the room is bright and flattering. A light right over your head will have a spotlight effect, casting shadows that can make your face look ghoulish. Instead, set up floor lamps around the room.

Dress like an employee

Our culture has gone more casual, but an interview (whether it’s in person or via video link) is not be the time to join in.

Dress the part, from head to toe. If you wear makeup, apply it with a light touch for the camera. Avoid wearing oversized jewelry.

Again, the name of the game in interviewing is to draw attention to you, not your clothing.

Eyes and expression are everything

It might be tempting to check your look in the thumbnail window in the corner of the screen or to focus on the screen image of your interviewer the whole time, but don’t do either.

Looking at the camera lens is the digital equivalent of making eye contact. When you look at the screen, it seems like you’re looking away. Disable the view of yourself and look at the camera whenever you’re speaking.

And smile! A thoughtful expression in person may appear disinterested on camera. Keep your expression open and nod in response to questions to give your interviewers visual cues that you’re engaged and listening.

Practice, practice, practice

No matter how good your setup, the technological nature of the video interview is still weird.

Practice with someone ahead of time so you appear confident and look like yourself. A friend or family member can give you feedback about how you’re behaving in front of the camera.

Are you speaking too loudly or softly? Are you making distracting hand gestures? Gather all this feedback and practice until you’re comfortable and confident.

Get familiar with the tech

No one wants an otherwise great conversation interrupted by tech problems. But in today’s technological world, it’s to be expected.

Minimize tech glitches by doing some reconnaissance work.

Set up the camera ahead of time so it frames your head and shoulders. Know how to mute and unmute the conversation. Practice with the platform you’ll be using, such as Facetime, Skype, or Zoom, to make sure you’re familiar with it.

If you detect problems that are out of your control during the interview, let your interviewers know right away.

Use the camera to your advantage

Since your interviewers can only see your face, you can use the space around you for notes and questions without calling too much attention to it.

Keep your notes right in front of you. Tape key points to a wall behind the camera. Make sure everything can be easily scanned so you can glance at your notes and return your gaze to the camera right away.

Skyping is a new skill, relatively speaking. Take it on with the kind of dedication you give to the rest of your work and you’ll be able to present yourself as professionally as you would in person.

7 Common Mistakes That Can Completely Derail Your Interview

When you’re preparing for an interview, set aside time to go over the basics.

Employers tell us they still see some pretty big gaffes—even by candidates interviewing for high-level positions.

Don’t be one of them. Be prepared and avoid these common mistakes:

Not looking your best

An employer recently told us about a candidate for a high-level position who showed up with a big stain on the front of his shirt. Ew.

First impressions matter. Even if you’re in a hurry, take 15 seconds to look in the mirror, smooth your hair, and check your teeth for traces of spinach. And don’t stop for barbecue on the way!

Do everything in your power to appear put together. It makes a better impression and helps you feel more confident.

Arriving late

That candidate above? He was also late.

Prioritize punctuality. Gas up the car the night before. Set multiple alarms. Get directions and know where to check in. Arrive 15 minutes early. It’s better to sit in the parking lot for awhile than to rush in five minutes late.

If the unthinkable happens and you’re going to be late, call the company to let them know the situation. It’s common courtesy.

Here’s how you can phrase it: “I may be premature in assuming this, but because of a collision on the freeway, I could be late.”

Being uninformed about the company

Arriving at an interview without a basic understanding of the company where you hope to work is sloppy.

Don’t walk in cold. Research the heck out of the company’s website. Learn the names of people in key positions, study the company’s mission and values, and read their blog posts and social media pages.

The more information you have, the better. It will help you engage with your interviewers authentically.

Showing up without a paper resume

Paper isn’t dead.

Your interviewers have your information in a digital format, but it’s still professional to have printed (perfectly edited) copies on hand.

With your resume in front of them, they won’t have to click through digital files or emails to pull up your information. And it puts your experience literally at their fingertips.

And while you’re at it, be sure to show up with your own pen and paper. It’s another signal that you’re prepared and ready for the job.

Not asking enough (of the right) questions

Come prepared with questions that pertain directly to the position. What do you think your interviewers care about? Jot down questions that show you care about those things, too.

You don’t need to memorize your questions. It’s perfectly fine to consult your notes.

And don’t ask about time off and vacation at the interview. It’s not the time. You’d be surprised to hear how many candidates ask a version of, “So, when would I be eligible for my first day off?” Yikes.

Bad-mouthing your former company

No matter how bad you prior situation was, if you trash your former boss or colleagues in an interview, it’s a mark against you.

When you’re asked about the circumstances surrounding your departure, frame it in terms of what you learned. Keep your emotions neutral. Emphasize the positive.

Acting distracted

Often, when you think you’re listening, you’re actually framing your next response in your head. That can lead to missed opportunities–or even interrupting your interviewer.

Instead, commit to being an active listener. Turn your phone off. (No Surfin’ Bird ringtones in the middle of the interview, please.) If your mind starts to wander, center yourself, make eye contact, and remind yourself to listen.

As an active listener, it will be easier for you to pick up on cues, develop rapport, and gather information. Plus, it will make a fantastic first impression.


“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” ― Oprah Winfrey

Recruiting and Hiring Employees Is Hard, Time-Consuming Work!


It’s a challenge to hire employees and put together the right team.

But it can feel even more difficult to keep that team in place. And the better they are at their jobs, the deeper the challenge becomes for the companies who hired them in the first place.

Having a top-notch team is non-negotiable. As any employer knows, retaining valuable employees is paramount. You can’t rest on your reputation if you want to keep the best employees around. To keep people happy, encouraged, and motivated, you need to have a plan, so they won’t start looking somewhere else.

To keep them on board, make sure you’re at the top of the game in your industry in these 3 areas:


Recently, I helped a job seeker leave a prominent, respected company. Why? A 43% pay increase plus a 10% bonus. Pay is not all-important to every employee, but it’s still a significant priority for most.

Make sure you’re keeping up with your competition by researching typical salaries in your industry. Be sure your wages are competitive and that you’re paying employees who do the same work equally. If you don’t, they may start to look around.

When you’re negotiating a starting salary, don’t lowball your job applicant. And be aware that in nine places in the U.S., it’s illegal to ask a job applicant about past salary. If you’re in Puerto Rico, Oregon, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Philadelphia or New York City, that’s the case for all employers. In New Orleans and Pittsburgh, employers in the public sphere can’t ask.

For existing employees, conduct evaluations on schedule and acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of employees who help support your company’s goals. Recognize employees with concrete rewards, such as time off and bonuses. These kinds of rewards will also help promote loyalty and a positive company culture. And let employees know why they earn the salary they do from your company. Transparency around the process for determining compensation earns trust–sometimes even more than bigger wages.


Gone are the days when workers are content to fill the same role at the same company for three decades. Today, the employer who has a vision for their employees is the one who holds onto them. Employees should feel that their career with your company is a journey toward personal and professional development, an opportunity to make a difference and have a meaningful impact.

Start by developing a vision for employees in your company. What will he be doing this time next year? What skills will she develop by her fifth anniversary? Who is on the fast track to a leadership role?

You can help answer these questions by pairing more experienced employees with newer ones through a workplace mentoring program. This will help employees connect with and learn from one another, but it will also give you valuable information about the skills and strengths of each person in your company.

Work with HR to put a succession plan in place. This will help your company in case of illness or sudden departure. It will also encourage employees who know they’re on an advancement track to remain invested in their work.


Remember skills development. A worker who’s bored is a worker at risk of being wooed by another company.

Be proactive and check in with employees. Ask directly: What’s working, what isn’t, and what would they like to learn to become more skilled at their job? Invest in on-site training and workshops, offered on your dime. Pay for your employees to attend conferences, off-site trainings and other educational opportunities. The goal is to keep employees fresh and interested in their work every day.

And consider working with your HR department to implement a job rotation strategy, which has been shown to increase loyalty and employee investment, while helping them discover hidden skills and foster a more flexible workforce.

Related post: Corporate Skills Training Is The New Black

“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard

Too Small To Be Hacked? What Your Business Needs To Know Now About Cybersecurity


As recruiters, our client records are full of sensitive information. This makes us sit up and listen every time we hear about another phishing scam or cyber attack.

That led us to talk with Ted Ipsen of Positroniq LLC, a cybersecurity expert with more than 20 years of experience.

As a small business, we asked him how much we need to worry. Isn’t cybersecurity mainly a concern for mega companies? Ipsen says businesses of all sizes need to pay attention to data protection.

Small and mid-sized companies are especially at risk because they usually don’t have full-time security professionals on staff.

A small company may not think of itself as an ideal target for cyber criminals. But hackers aren’t breaking into huge companies one at a time.

“Many times, attackers use automated tools to scan huge swaths of the Internet for vulnerable machines and network services, and then exploit them automatically.”

And cybercrimes are growing more and more sophisticated every year.

The underground system has undergone “a sort of industrial revolution,” he says. “Attackers specialize in one particular phase of the attack chain and sell their services for a piece of the action.”

One attacker identifies a system vulnerability. Another writes the code to exploit it. Yet another acts as a distributor.

This makes cybercrime even tougher to combat. As a result, security requirements are tightening everywhere for small vendors and collaborators. Big companies now have detailed security requirements for potential vendors.

New government regulations create even more pressure. Want to construct buildings for the Department of Defense? Your company now has to meet a specific security standard to ensure you’re protecting unclassified data and may be subject to a security audit.

How can you navigate all of this?

“Be proactive and implement at least basic security practices and programs,” says Ipsen.

Security professionals help companies develop protocols and put customized systems in place that will minimize risk and help them recover in case of an attack.

All companies can start developing a data protection plan and demonstrate “security maturity” by following the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework:


What information do you need to protect, including information connected with your supply chains, vendors, and potential vendors? Where is data stored and what are the potential risks within those systems? Are you sure you know where all your data is?

Ipsen points out that It’s common for employees to copy sensitive data into spreadsheets or other files that are stored in insecure locations, such as a workstation or network share. Over time, these unofficial copies of data get scattered across the network or travel to unsecured networks on laptops. When you’re looking at your data, make sure you know all its locations.


Restrict access to data by classifying data and limiting employee access. Good password practices are essential. Help combat password fatigue—using the same password for everything—by setting up limited-life passwords, or management-only password access, or using password management software.

Classify data into “public,” “sensitive,” and “restricted” categories and set up protocols for each. Ask, for each data category, who needs access and why and only give access to those who need it to perform their jobs. Limit, for instance, employee access to sensitive financial records.

Use encryption technologies to protect in-transit data—information that’s being transmitted or received across networks—and to secure at-rest data—information that’s in a file or database.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, invest in security awareness training for staff so they can spot techniques used by hackers to trick employees into sharing information.


Sometimes organizations don’t realize they’ve suffered a data breach because they’re relying on technological systems to detect problems or they don’t have the expertise to spot ways that data may have been compromised. Make sure that an information security expert, whether an expert contractor or an in-house employee, is periodically looking over your systems to make sure they’re up to date and functioning properly and to identify potential problems.


Be prepared with a plan you can deploy effectively and rapidly, in case you experience an attack or data breach. Create a playbook that includes a detailed communications plan. Decide ahead of time how you’ll contain the incident and mitigate vulnerabilities so it doesn’t happen again.


A business continuity plan will help make your company more resilient by allowing you to continue operations even as you’re in disaster recovery mode. If you store data in an off-site temporary location and have a trustworthy backup plan, you can continue working off yesterday’s backups, even if a third party is holding your data hostage.

Managing your company’s cybersecurity is a huge job. But being aware of the risk and investing time in developing proactive plan will help keep your data safe and minimize damage. It will also ensure partner companies that their sensitive information will be protected if they work with you. And if other companies know their data is safe with you, it will make you more attractive as a vendor.

“The internet is just a world passing notes around a classroom.”
― Jon Stewart

Ted Ipsen is President and COO of Positroniq LLC.